HC Deb 23 November 1936 vol 318 cc10-2

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now state the nature of the reply which he has received from the Japanese Government in respect of the representations made by him in connection with the ill-treatment of three British sailors at Keelung, in Formosa?


Yes, Sir, and in order to remove any misapprehensions which may exist regarding this matter I propose briefly to recapitulate the facts as they emerge from a very thorough investigation by a Naval Court of Inquiry recently held in Hong Kong. On 7th October three naval ratings belonging to a British flotilla visiting Keelung in Formosa were arrested by the Japanese police charged with the non-payment of a taxi-cab fare. There was, however, good evidence to show that the taxi-driver had been paid. During their examination at the police station the three ratings were called liars and repeatedly struck in the face by the examining officer. It was subsequently found that one of the ratings had had his jaw fractured by a blow dealt him by this official. A British naval officer, who intervened to try to secure the men's release, although he was in uniform and his status therefore unmistakable, was insulted by the same police official. Ultimately the British officer advised the men to say that they had not paid as the only means of getting away.

The incident was of such a nature and the evidence so clear that His Majesty's Government instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at Tokyo to inform the Japanese Government that the visit of courtesy due to be paid by the Commander-in-Chief, China station, to Yokohama on 30th October could not take place unless due apology were made, instructions issued for the punishment of the police officers responsible, compensation given to the injured man and steps taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. The Japanese Government did not feel able to give this measure of satisfaction at once, feeling that they must investigate the charges for themselves. The Ambassador accordingly informed them that the Commander-in-Chief's visit was postponed in order to give them time to satisfy themselves of the truth of the charges against the Formosa police.

On 10th November His Majesty's Ambassador communicated to the Japanese Government a copy of the report of the Court of Inquiry set up at Hong Kong by the British naval authorities with the suggestion that the facts disclosed therein should be compared with the report of the Procurator in Formosa before the Japanese Government furnished their final reply. The Japanese Government have now sent an interim reply expressing regret that such an unpleasant incident should have occurred and stating that further inquiries are being made in the light of the Hong Kong Court of Inquiry's report, a copy of which has been sent to the officials conducting the inquiry. Pending the receipt of a satisfactory final reply from the Japanese Government, I am unable to regard the incident as closed.


Can my right hon. Friend say whether, until full satisfaction has been afforded to His Majesty's Government by the Japanese Government in, connection with this incident, His Majesty's Government intend to permit further visits of courtesy by His Majesty's warships to Japanese ports or to receive similar visits from Japanese warships to British ports?


My answer makes it clear that satisfaction in this matter would have to be a preliminary.

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